How to Buy, Store, and Cook Brussels Sprouts
In the draft of favorite vegetables, Brussels sprouts have a history of not exactly coming in as a first-round pick. If over-boiled versions come to mind (and their not-so-pleasant smell), we don't blame you. Sure, they're good for you — high in vitamins A and C, good sources of iron — but can they be mouthwateringly delicious?
We're glad you asked: They play a starring role in this hearty and filling farro salad, satisfy in this seconds-worthy holiday side, and can even surprise you in a gorgeous tarte tatin or fried in a taco.
And when they're simply roasted to caramelized perfection? Game over.
You may want to rethink your opinion of this cruciferous vegetable — and that starts with knowing how to prepare it.
How to buy and store Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts season runs from late August through March, but they reach their peak season in the fall. The sprouts' cousins include cauliflower, kale, broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, and bok choy.
They grow as small, cabbage-like buds on a large inedible stalk. It's quite a sight to behold if you've never seen them before they're picked — plus, you'll get the most tender sprouts if you trim them yourself. If you go this route, cut off the sprouts, rinse them in a large bowl of cold water and store them in a resealable bag in the crisper drawer.
You can also buy them pre-trimmed; this is probably the way you're used to seeing them in your produce section. Either way, look for tightly closed, green leaves with an earthy (not cabbage-y) aroma. After cleaning and storing them, they'll stay fresh in the fridge for up to a week and a half.
Brussels sprouts cooking methods
If you take away only one method for Brussels sprouts, let it be roasting. When exposed to super high heat in the oven, not only does their pungent flavor get mellowed — their texture turns tender on the inside, crispy and caramelized on the outside.
Halve sprouts and make sure they're all about the same size (so they roast evenly) and space them out on a rimmed baking sheet (so they don't steam). Toss with a generous amount of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and cook at 450 degrees. After tossing every 10 minutes or so, you should have a charred, tender, and delicious dish after 25 to 30 minutes.
Brussels sprouts play nicely with smoky flavors: Think bacon, sausage, or fresh chorizo. If you're vegetarian or vegan, you can also go with olive oil and still get a nice char.
Add halved brussels sprouts to the skillet with your oil or fat of choice over a medium high heat. While they're cooking, do not touch — moving them around in the pan will prevent them from achieving that delectable caramelization. Cook until they have a nice sear on one side (5 to 8 minutes), then give them a stir and continue cooking for until they're tender on the inside and browned all over (another 5 to 8 minutes).
Start with these cast-iron blistered Brussels sprouts.
Casserole or gratin
It's hard to say no to any veggie doused in cream and cheese, and Brussels sprouts are no different. Just make sure to parcook your sprouts beforehand. Steam, blanche, or roast them until they're al dente (bright green, still a bit of bite left in them), then they'll finish cooking in the casserole.
Break out of a salad rut by incorporating Brussels sprouts: They've got a great natural crunch and pair perfectly with a bold vinaigrette and a crumbly cheese component to boot.
Start by trimming the ends and outer leaves. Next, you can soften them a bit by massaging with salt (they can be a bit tough otherwise), or thinly slice them (a mandoline works great here) to achieve a shredded slaw.
Still craving more inspiration? Check out this gallery for more delicious ways to prepare Brussels sprouts.